A review by afi_whatafireads
My Brilliant Life, by Kim Ae-ran

emotional hopeful reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


"I believe that larger miracles exists in the ordinary, in the living of an ordinary life and dying at an ordinary age. To me the miracles are my parents, my aunts and uncles, our next-door neighbours, the middle of summer and the middle of winter.

I'm no miracle."

Such a simple story but with a very heavy message. About a boy who grew older then he should, a mother who sacrificed all that she could and a father who only wants his child to be healthy. This book was the kind of sad that makes you smile but breaks your heart so much. Its a child's longing of the world and his positivity in looking on the bright side of things.

Personal Ratings : 4.35🌟

This story was beautiful. It was not only heartbreaking but also had a prose that had made me highlight almost every line whilst I was reading it. The story was told in such a narrative that made me smile but also left me crying silently. Trying to write my thoughts on it was hard too as I'm still digesting what I felt with the book. But, with everything, I would say its a book about hope and a child's longing, and somewhat of a memoir of his life.

Short Summary
Progeria : An extremely rare, progressive genetic disorder that causes children to age rapidly, starting in their first two years of life.
Areum was a bright boy who aged too soon. Told in 4 parts, the book tells the story of Areum since he was a child, about his parents, how he coped with his condition and lastly concluded with how he had lived his life. A somewhat kinda-memoir story that brings hope and will definitely brings tears.

Personal Thoughts
I honestly love stories that are told in the perspective of a child. It makes the story has a naive tone but also can be so very insightful. The author's writing and the translator had done such a wonderful job in putting out the story. It was beautifully written with a story that is simple but holds so much meaning.

One of the most interesting parts of the story is how the author describes the feelings of the children in their mother's wombs.

"The sound made me want to retreat but also made me want to dance, dance to my mom's heartbeat laid over mine. Boom thump thump. Boom thump thump. Boom thump. Boom Thump. My Mom's boom set the tone while my thump hit the offbeat."

"My organs sprouted and expanded, my liver swelling and my kidneys ripening. My bones formed. I grew rapidly. In my dreams I met my mom's dreams for rambling conversations."

Areum's narrative was both matured but so very naive. His innocence was shown in the book but it also shows how he had matured to somehow "look" like his current age. Reading about Areum will make you heart ache so so much. His organs were failing and every part of him needs surgery, and yet, his nature, and his mindset was positive and he somewhat remains optimistic. He has a sense of humour that reminds me of Yunjae in Almond. Naive but very insightful. But the author also showed, even at the end of the day, he's still a child and that he gets scared. It was so moving I was just tearing up and wanted to go in the book and hug him, for living his life.

I love how Areum was so invested in writing and reading. It resonates so much more as the only thing that he felt he could relate to was through by reading everything.

"Books were everything to me - a grandmother who told me stories all night long, a teacher who imparted all the knowledge in the world, a friend who shared their secrets and problems."

Areum's relationship with his parents and his neighbours was what I lived for. I liked that he's sassy but also very kind and observant with others around him. Apart of me is relieved that he was showered with all kinds of love in his lifetime.

"Areum, what makes you want to live?

"Its everything and anything. Everything I see and hear around me is brilliant, and gets me fired up."

Reading this book reflected me a lot about life. About appreciating just the little things in life, and about loving even the little things like being able to smell properly. This book was eye-opening and a story that I will stick through and remember in my heart for a very long time. I highly recommend everyone to read this at least once in your life!

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